Essay Example on Journey to Self-Identity: Amy Tan's A Pair of Tickets

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1768 Words
Date:  2023-05-03

Thesis Statement: Most of the immigrants' children experience cultural barriers limiting individuals' ability to establish a definitive cultural and self-identity, hence victims of an identity crisis. Amy Tan wrote "A Pair of Tickets" using firsthand experiences in order to emphasize identity conflict within a person and how culture exists through interaction and negotiation with other distinctive cultures. The story develops the idea of starting a journey after the purchase of a ticket to facilitate going back to the native land, China. It represents the internal and external collision of identity transformation as experienced by immigrants dealing with an identity crisis.

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With "A Pair of Tickets" by Amy Tan as the point of reference, it espouses an extensive discussion on the prevalence of ethnic and multicultural chronicles. The narratives illustrate the challenges of immigrants in the pursuit to form true amid a judgmental society. To offer insights through a critique of Amy Tan's eye, the argumentative essay aims at investigating the process of identity formation. It denotes the manifestation of identity crisis exhibited by the Chinese immigrant daughters. The storyline displays the reality of immigrants exposed to a native culture and the immediate experience in a new culture. Using the experience of Jing-Mei, the essay will identify the cultural and generational gaps noted in the relationship of a Chinese mother and the American-born daughters, and the attempt of the latter to fit in either cultural spaces. The narrative manifests the cultural hybridization and problems of an identity crisis.

There exists a voluminous amount of literature showcasing the struggles of minority groups, such as the Chinese-Americans experiencing an identity crisis. Through the stories of Jing-Mei, the process of ethnic identity offers the essence of studying social psychology. Using Amy Tan's narrative, one realizes the manifestation of socially constructed concepts leading to cultural intolerance and identity crises. A more substantial portion of minority communities in America are victims of social discrimination due to the complexity of their identity and heritage acceptance. Authors like Lan, take note that Amy has taken up literal works as a channel to address the psychology of identity crisis, especially among the immigrants through the American experience and trying to integrate with other cultures (2018). To exploit the numerous themes, the quest revolves in finding the balance of the past and the future while living the present in the pursuit of locating and embracing true identity. The cross-cultural experience prompts confusion in various phases of life, therefore important to acknowledge the essence of attaining cultural reconciliation.

Immigrants experience problematic cultural identities considering the urge to commit allegiance to different cultures of the host and native upbringing (Bhandari 262). To them, social freedom is elusive as they can never evade from that reality in sharing cultural and historical allusion. Consequently, brought to practicing their customs in the host society, through interactions and existences, they are largely influenced to pick cultural practices and behaviors from the host. It is like living in a third space that solely depends on the first and second spaces to find the niche. Amy depicts the complex relationship between Jing-Mei and her Chinese mother pushing her to embrace her nativity as an immigrant, "But my mother had studied at a famous nursing school in Shanghai, and she said she knew all about genetics. So there was no doubt in her mind, whether I agreed or not: Once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese" (Tan par. 2). The unfolding juxtaposes simultaneous attraction and distraction in embracing the cultural infusion. As a result, the identity of culture remains unstable, distorted, and exposing the affected individuals to a complex mode of cultural transformation.

The presumptions of the hybrid identity concept display the distinctive features of cultural conflict. Taking the case for Chinese-American hybrid, the foundation of the concept is manifested by the existing two traditional mixes on the aspects of 'space' and 'time.' Nevertheless, it fails to recognize either of the cultures as homogenous. The truth is that even with the distinctive aspect, both American and Chinese culture is deemed as a hybrid. Having a clear cultural identity has emerged as an ambiguous space. Arguably, the space existing between cultures refers to the experiences of immigrants while moving in and out to find a safe place to pronounce and develop a personal identity, thus the concept of hybrid identity. Conceptualizing the hybrid identity, it allows us to argue from the point of view to find the present cultural identities, a mixture, like Chinese-American depicted by Amy.

Following the discussion to contrast the distinctive cultures, it shows the lead to confusion for individuals. Considering the American customs and its pronounced democratic culture, it promotes the elements of independence, liberty of choice, and freedom in every context. The illustration of mother and daughter's fight between and her mother reveals the emergence of confusion and conflict. Jing-Mei is in constant quarrels with her mother as she resists the imposition of things to identify with the Chinese culture "I saw myself transforming like a werewolf, a mutant tag of DNA suddenly triggered, replicating itself insidiously into a syndrome, a cluster of telltale Chinese behaviors" (Amy Tan p.129). The American culture positions "high value" on 'freedom' from "externally imposed constraints" (Coalter ed). Again the American culture embraces individualism and personal liberty in the protection of singular autonomy. It allows them to evade the social obligation that confines one to a preset custom life dictated by society. With her mother as an immigrant and earning the Chinese education, it becomes difficult for the daughter to understand the precepts of imposed culture since she takes her experience from the American education system that advocates for individualism as a right of freedom. Comparing the two cultures consciously, there are specific norms that can be tied to each of the different cultures. Freedom, liberty, and choice can be used to describe American culture. On the other hand, Chinese culture can be regarded as compounded by restrictions, misery, and force.

Contrasting the Chinese culture, it is American to pursue happiness. Indeed it is an essential element in the definition of American culture. Happiness is a basic value that every American must pursue as it is stipulated in The U.S. Declaration of Independence that proclaims happiness as a fundamental right of American citizens (Groen, Simon, Hans, and Sushrut 107-117). For the Chinese case, pursuing happiness is not engrained in its customs; it is of less important value. The supposition, although startling, is justified by the collective orientation and commitment to cultural obligations. China has a higher reverence according to the wishes of a specific group, not depending on personal feelings but rather the interest of a group (Liu). Drawing from this supposition, the existence of conflicts in blended culture can be justified.

The depiction of cultural conflict experienced by immigrants in the American diaspora is depicted by Chinese-American characters in their pursuit to fit in the western culture through higher education advancement, founding a career, to live the American Dream. With the influence of their conservative Chinese mother, the daughters are struggling to settle in the new culture while wanting to observe the indigenous culture. Notably, the depiction represents the situation for immigrants within the confines of America. As the immigrants try to fit into the new setting there, find themselves in a dilemma when pursuing to perpetuate the native cultural customs to pass on to generations in the fear that Americanization will disorient the subsequent generations from the cultural obligation of following and practicing origin traditions. The manifestation of distinct flexibility through the influence of the American culture takes control to define the hybrid space. The only alternative for immigrants is to blend in the different cultures they are tied to either through exposure and parenthood orientation. To argue out the case, immigrants ought to assimilate to the social constructs of the American culture while responding to the biological inheritance.

The end of the identity crisis for immigrants remains elusive, especially with the aspect of multi-culturalism borne by globalization. The struggle for social identity remains blurred and with massive confusion due to the confluence of distinctive cultures. It is almost unacceptable to identify with the native culture when exposed and taking from American education and cultural systems. The imposition to children from their immigrant parents seems alien as it is considered hostile and a violation of personal liberty. Nevertheless, even with refusing to accept their nativity, American society remains judgmental, making it a challenge as they harbor discrimination. It is based on ethnic stereotyping on aspects of skin color, ethnic and traditional traits locking them from the definition of being identified as American, rather immigrants with -the connotation of their origin, that is, Chinese-American, in the white's eyes. White society has a socially constructed attitude towards the immigrants, which depicts social rejection that frustrates the effort to deal with an identity crisis.


The struggle to establish a definitive cultural identity presents the immigrants with a dilemma amid social constructs that encourage rejection, making it difficult to deal with the identity crisis. Amy Tan uses the literature to presents the struggles of Chinese-American characters in the pursuit to recreate their cultural identity while influenced by the host cultural settings. Besides, their cultural interactions produce indecision and confusion to progress as individuals and find a cultural niche. Nevertheless, the attraction to conform to the native culture prompts distraction in embracing the present situation laying the foundation for the argumentative piece. The complex existence forges the negotiation and transformation of cultural identity formation to find a balance.

Works Cited

Bhandari, Nagendra Bahadur. "Reinventing Cultural Identities in Diaspora: A Mother-Daughter Dyad in Tan's Narratives." Tribhuvan University Journal 32.1 (2018): 261-272.

Coalter, Fred, ed. Freedom and constraint: The paradoxes of leisure. Routledge, 2019.

Groen, Simon, Hans Rohlof, and Sushrut Jadhav. "Aspects of cultural identity related to national, ethnic, and racial background; languages; and migration." DSM-5 Handbook on the cultural formulation interview (2016): 107-117.

Lan, Pei-Chia. Raising global families: Parenting, immigration, and class in Taiwan and the U.S. Stanford University Press, 2018.

Liu, Shuzhi. "Cultural Translation Studies on Hybrid Identity in the Joy Luck Club." proceedings of the second international conference on globalization: challenges for translators and interpreters. American Academic Press, 2017.;jsessionid=10D5D12CC13D832F2FB72AAC52CBA52B?month=3&year=2018

Tan, Amy. "A Pair of Tickets...

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